Over half American students are low-income, says new study

Over half American students are low-income, says new study

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  • Over half American students are low-income.
  • Majority in the Sun Belt.
  • Tax breaks could help diminishing middle class.

According to the Southern Education Foundation, over half the American public student body are low-income. Of that number, majority of effected children are in the south and west.

A report by the Southern Education Foundation reveals the majority of American public school children are low income students, especially those attending in the southern region.

Data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) notes that in 2013, 51 percent of the student body (preK-12th grade) were low income and 40 out of 50 states made up 40 percent of all public students qualifying for aid.

In fact, over half the children proved eligible to receive “free or reduced-priced lunches” in 21 states. The other 19 states low income or poverty level students made up 40 percent of public school enrollment. That means for every 5 states, 4 were eligible to receive financial help in obtaining school meals.

The numbers are staggering but not without precedence since the rate has been steadily climbing in the past 25 years. In 2012, NCES data demonstrated that low income students fell shy of one half at 49.6 percent.

According to SEF, 13 out of the 21 states were in the South while 6 out of the 21 states were in the West. Mississippi ranked first with 71 percent, almost three out of four children were low-income. New Mexico took second place with 68 percent.

The next 12 states were all considered to be in the south. Louisiana (65 percent), Arkansas and Oklahoma (61 percent), and Texas and Georgia (60 percent) took the next spots. Had the District of Columbia been eligible, D.C. would have placed next to Oklahoma.

The numbers are worrying as federal and state governments continuously clash and resources are placed on hold until agreements and compromises are reached. And given the nature of the Southern epidemic on food sources, a voter /4/wonder why the problem is still persistent.

In 2006, the SEF found the Southern region (by U.S. Census boundaries, which includes Delaware) to be largest area impacted. Saying,

“In this brave, new world, the people and policymakers of Southern states must realize that continuing the current, uneven level of educational progress will be disastrous. They must understand more fully that today their future and their grandchildren’s future are inextricably bound to the success or failure of low income students in the South.”

However, after the 2013 report, the organization felt that “no longer can we consider the problems and needs of low income students simply a matter of fairness.” Food works as fuel to allow students to study and learn.

“With huge, stubbornly unchanging gaps in learning, schools in the South and across the nation face the real danger of becoming entrenched, inadequately funded educational systems that enlarge the division in America between haves and have-nots and endanger the entire nation’s prospects.”

Without the energy and focus, unmotivated students will not progress when compared to other first world nations. “Their success or failure in the public schools will determine the entire body of human capital and educational potential that the nation will possess in the future.”

A look at a provided infograph shows the bulk of poverty along the southern Sunbelt with only Arizona falling at 50 percent or below. This information is especially important as the United States looks to redefine and rebuild the falling middle class.

During his 2015 State of the Union speech, President Obama is expected to discuss middle class tax breaks while increasing taxes for the wealthy on capital gains. Cutting the ‘trust-fund loophole’ would bolster the national budget as well. Doing so would raise over $320 billion in the next decade while cutting $175 billion in taxes and provide assistance for the weaker middle-class.

Going from 23.5 percent to 28 percent in capital-gain taxes would affect couples and individuals making over $200,000 a year. And increasing fees on banks with over $50 billion would offer breaks for the majority of Americans, including a $500 tax break when both spouses are employed, increased child care and education credits, and encouragement to save for retirement. 

The New York Times notes the $500 “second earner” break would affect 24 million homes in the U.S. The maximum credit would end at $120,000 a year with some form of credit applying to those making up to $210,000 a year. Obama would also like to change the child care credit from $550 a year to up to $3,000 a year for children under the age of 5. Eliminating the hoops would allow parents to deduct directly and offer a flat break.

And the education credit would offer up to $2,500 a year for college students. Streamlining and restructuring seem to be vital in repositioning the U.S. as a competitor in the global market, especially as the nation’s education falls behind the rest of the world. Food provides the ability to pay attention in school and tax breaks make it easier for families to feed children when they’re not in class.

While the tax break restructuring would credit a political showdown among the Republican-held Congress and House, the nation’s Democratic president is looking at a different outcome. By providing tax cuts to the often considered overburdened middle-class and low income brackets, the number of children searching for meals would quickly decrease.

In an effort to motivate change, the Southern Education Foundation warned policymakers and voters alike that momentum is necessary to progress. Quoting Abraham Lincoln, the group concluded that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”


Sources: Southern Education Foundation, New York Times

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